Nursing home staff air grievance with county board

Wednesday night the Knox County Board heard from different union staff members of the county nursing home regarding ongoing contract disputes. 

During the time for public comment, like in committee meetings all this month, nursing home staff filled the meeting rooms to voice their concerns with contract talks and the rising tension in the nursing home.

Randy Lynch with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees went over the mandation numbers with the board “From November 1st through November 21st, 24 CNAs on first shift have been mandated. 15 on second shift have been mandated. And 5 on third shift have been mandated.”

Lynch also went over the overtime hours with the board,  “Overtime hours excluding mandation – paid for the payroll of [November 3rd] – 457.25 hours for CNAs, 98.25 for LPNs. Paid on [November 17th], 551.75 hours for CNAs, and 122.75 for LPNs. That’s outrageous. You’re working these people to death.”

Once the meeting got underway, several vehicle purchases were approved.

Most of the discussion on the items included the purchase of a replacement snowplowing truck for the nursing home.

According to board member, and Committee Chair that oversees the nursing home – Bob Bondi, the 15-year old truck was on it’s last leg – and was rusted out and in dire need of replacement.

Several board members voted against the action, including Board President Pamela Davidson who said it came down to finances for her, “I understand it was on the ten-year plan. And the nursing home has three payrolls in December and they’re $200,000 each so $600,000. And plus with the audit that’s going on out there, we do not know if we are going to have to write off some money. So I think it should be pushed back on this vehicle.”

Board member Erickson asked if the nursing home had looked into contracting out the snow removal. Bondi and nursing home administrator Rachel Secrist said that they had reached out to local contractors to do the work, but the biggest issue with that is the reliance of the City of Knoxville to keep the roadways clear so that the contractors could get out to the nursing home.

In addition Secrist said that she couldn’t get anyone to guarantee that the nursing home would be a priority for snow removal – instead of just being added to the list. This would present a major issue in the event of a medical emergency at the nursing home.

The issue was called to a vote, and approved with eight votes for, five against, with Rick Sandoval being the lone abstention. Board members Davidson, Cheryl Nache, Tara Wilder, David Amor, and Todd Shreves were the dissenting votes.

Three vehicles were also purchased for the Sheriff’s Department including a prison transport vehicle, and two cars for deputies.

The board also approved several items including sound proofing work to be done at the Administrative Annex, and the addition of a shroud to a staircase at the courthouse.

In addition the board approved changes to the 2017/18 budget – adding that the tax levy is staying the same, but that appropriations in the budget were changing.